programme and application information


© R. Cherry


programme information

artist accelerator is an arts incubator that immerses creative practitioners in a university-led hothouse for creative enterprise development.  Artists access the tools, training and resources required to develop their creative practice into viable, thriving creative enterprises. accelerator is for creative practitioners who wish to accelerate their careers, enhance their creative practice and develop sustainable business models for their creative output. 

As an accelerator artist you will form the testbeds cohort of eight early-career artists and four mid-career artists. The cohort will be cross-disciplinary and will challenge, support and collaborate with each other.

You could be a choreographer interested in developing a company that enables young people to tell their stories through movement. At the end of the programme you will have written a robust business plan, be able to promote and sell your model, have the required networking skills to establish partnerships and will have formed relationships with community leaders. You will have submitted your funding application and trialled your workshop model with a group of young people. You will now be ready to take your workshop model to the market and have the University’s support in gaining the funding you need.

as a participant you will receive:

•    12-months of training and support

•    a £5000 stipend to support living and training expenses, paid over three instalments

•    access to creative / studio space (dependent on requirements and availability)

•    fortnightly seminars, workshops and training sessions

•    fortnightly co-working and networking



the programme is divided into three phases:

phase one - research & development

February to June 2018

You will engage in professional and creative development, widen your networks and establish relationships with audiences, decision-makers and community leaders. Specifically, this is done through: 

•    One Thursday a fortnight of intensive training;

•    One day a fortnight (on alternate Thursdays) of supported co-working where the previous week's learning can be put into practice in a collaborative environment;

•    Access to creative studio space (dependent on requirements and availability);

Towards the completion of this phase you will participate in a week of ‘Demo’ activity. Inspired by tech start-up ‘demo days’ you will have the chance to present your work-in-progress to audiences and potential partners through performances, exhibitions, installations or talks. You will receive feedback and establish working relationships in order to take your work to the next phase. 


phase two - project development

July to September 2018

During this phase you will take what they have learned and developed during Phase 1 and create a robust project to deliver after the life of accelerator. Through expert advice, access to the testbeds bid-writing surgery and the opportunity to share ideas, collaborate & receive feedback, you will establish partnerships with local organisations and create high-quality applications to Arts Council England and other funders. This will be delivered through:

•    One Thursday a fortnight of training and access to the bid-writing surgery (usually on Thursdays);

•    One day a fortnight (on alternate Thursdays), of supported co-working for intense bid-writing and project-development activity in a collaborative environment;

•    Access to creative studio space (dependent on requirements and availability); 

At the end of this phase you will have submitted applications for funding to Arts Council England and/or other funding agencies. 


phase three - outreach project

October to December 2018

Throughout this phase you will deliver an arts outreach project for young people in Luton. Developed throughout Phases 1 and 2 in collaboration with ROH Bridge and the University’s Access & Outreach team, you will have the opportunity to test your ideas through in-depth engagement with a group of young people over three months. You will have the chance to work with a range of schools or community groups in Luton and will develop skills in working with vulnerable and disengaged communities. This phase will expand your audiences for your work and create lasting relationships with service-providers. Co-working, networking and studio access will continue on Thursdays throughout this phase. 

At the completion of this phase artists will have tested their work with young participants, have widened their networks and have proven experience in working in community contexts.



what will I learn & what happens at the end of the year?

By the end of the programme you will have gained the required skills and knowledge to achieve your creative ambitions. You will have established relationships with partners, funders, investors and local authority representatives. You will have tested your work in front of audiences, received critical feedback and put your idea into practice by working with young people. You will have developed a robust business plan and model for your creative enterprise. You will have a realistic and comprehensive budget for your project and have submitted funding applications to support your idea. You will now be able to pitch your offer to potential audiences and buyers and realise your creative enterprise dreams.

Following on from the programme, you will have the opportunity to receive continued support from the University to take your project to the next stage. Should your funding application(s) be successful, the University will partner with you to realise your proposed project. Should it not, you will have continued access to the testbeds bid-writing surgery and be able to access further advice on acquiring the funding required to realise your potential. 

It all depends on what your idea or creative practice is. Have a look at the examples on this page of the types of enterprises accelerator could support and please get in touch with us to discuss your idea before you make your application.


important dates

Applications close: Midnight December 14 2017

Interviews: Early January 2018

Programme commences: Early February 2018



applicant criteria

accelerator is open to artists of all disciplines and we are passionate about bringing together a group of creative practitioners from as wide a range of disciplines as possible. We are looking for writers, theatre-makers, game-designers, visual artists, choreographers, poets, public artists, graphic-designers, musicians, dancers and circus artists. Please get in touch to discuss your art form if you are unsure of whether you are eligible. 

The following criteria applies:

•    Applicants must be from, or based within Luton, UK. To determine whether this is you, please ask yourself:


- Were you born in and/or attended primary and/or secondary education in Luton and can demonstrate current ties to the community of Luton? OR;

- Do you currently live in Luton and the surrounding Luton area (LU postcodes only)? OR;

- Do you currently live in a surrounding area (AL, HP, MK or SG postcodes only) and can demonstrate that you currently contribute significantly to the Luton economy i.e.: work or volunteer in Luton? 

•    Applicants must have a minimum of three years of sustained practice in their discipline. This can be demonstrated by the completion of a relevant Bachelors Degree or the equivalent in work and/or volunteer commitments. As an early-career artist it is not expected that most or all of your income is attained through creative pursuits, however a sustained commitment to your practice must be demonstrated through a folio of work.

•    Participants must be 18 years or over as of the 9th January 2018. 

Please note you will be required to provide proof of your eligibility should you be invited to interview stage. If you are unsure of your eligibility, please contact us to discuss your eligibility further. 

You could be a game designer wanting to develop a game that helps educate children with learning disabilities. At the end of the programme you will have developed a prototype for the game, gained training in working with children with disabilities, written a fully-realised business plan, and established a relationship with a charity working with your target group of children. You will have received tailored guidance on your funding application, help in obtaining the appropriate checks and certifications, and time and space to develop the idea into a working prototype. You will have gained presentation and networking skills and be ready to pitch to investors.


participant guidelines

•    Participants must be able to commit to the equivalent of one day per week for the full 12 months of the project (Feb – Dec 2017 inclusive). 

•    Luton-based training and co-working events are expected to take place most Thursdays for the duration of the project. Attendance at and participation in these events is required. 

•    Access to creative spaces will be provided to participants of the project. The nature and timing of this access will be dependent on artist requirements and space availability. Participants are expected to treat these spaces with respect and willingly share spaces with current University of Bedfordshire students and staff. 

•    Participants will be required to regularly contribute digital content to the website of the project in the form of work-in-progress discussions/showings (images, video, writing) and participant diary entries/blogs. 

•    Participants are expected to work collaboratively and generously with other artists. 

•    Stipends are awarded in instalments. Up to 40% can be used for living expenses and the remainder should be used for training (attendance at conferences, specialty training) and development purposes. All expenditure is to be approved by the Project Manager and a record of expenditure will be required to be provided to project management each quarter. 

•    Artists will be required to be self-employed in order to receive stipends. If you are not set up as self-employed we are able to assist with this once the programme starts. No instalment of the stipend can be paid until you are able to produce invoices.

•    The University of Bedfordshire reserves the right to remove a participant from the programme should they violate the guidelines or spirit of the project. 

•    Participants will be required to sign an Artist Agreement in relation to all of the above.



application process

There are two stages to the artist accelerator application process: an online application form and an interview/presentation stage.  

1.    Application Form

Applicants will be required to upload an Artist Resume and provide links/upload a folio of work. In addition to this, applicants must provide 500-word statements in response to four prompts:

a. Describe your creative practice and highlight some recent successes you have had with your work.

b. Tell us about how you wish to develop your creative practice moving forward. Consider the following: 

  • What do you envisage your creative enterprise will be in the future? 
  • How do you want to sustain yourself through your arts practice?

c. Tell us what your practice is informed/inspired by and how it responds to or reflects on social issues. Consider the following:

  • How is your work specifically relevant to and located in Luton?
  • How do you think your work could make a lasting impact on arts & culture provision in Luton?

d.  Tell us how you think Artist Accelerator can help you achieve your goals. Consider the following:

  • How can Artist Accelerator help you push you career beyond its current limits?
  • How can Artist Accelerator help you achieve your career goals?
  • What are you good at and what do you need to work on?
  • What training, travel, or development could help you exceed your current limitations?

It is highly recommended that you draft your responses to the above statements prior to beginning. 

2.    Interview/Presentation

Shortlisted applicants will be invited to the interview stage. Interviews will take place early January 2018. Applicants will be required to answer further questions regarding their creative, entrepreneurial and outreach goals and will have the chance to ask questions about the programme. Applicants will also be required to present a budget for how they would allocate the stipend if accepted into the programme. Further information will be provided when the applicant is invited to this stage.


apply to artist accelerator


Applicants will be notified of the outcome of their application by Friday December 22 2017